Traverse City Record-Eagle

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August 1, 2013

Peninsula eyes paramedics

TRAVERSE CITY — Peninsula Township officials may try to swing a deal with Traverse City to obtain paramedics in an effort to upgrade the township’s ambulance service and add advanced life support personnel.

Steve Ball, a Traverse City firefighter and paramedic who’s also a member of Peninsula Township’s Fire Board, suggested using Traverse City paramedics to supplement the township’s ambulance service. Ball said the fire board will discuss whether to seek a proposal from Traverse City officials when board members meet Monday at 7 p.m. in the township hall.

“It would be an instant benefit to Peninsula because we could do (advance life support) tomorrow using a city paramedic,” Ball said.

Traverse City Mayor Michael Estes isn’t so keen on Ball’s plan. He suspects it originated with the city firefighter’s union and is an effort to protect their jobs.

Estes wants to dissolve the city’s fire department and join with Grand Traverse Metro Fire Department, which contracts with North Flight EMS for ALS service.

“If they are coming for a cooperative effort, the city is going to have to get something substantial in the deal,” Estes said.

Peninsula residents don’t receive the same level of service as residents in and around Traverse City because they have to wait for an advance life support ambulance to travel through the city and make its way up the peninsula, said Dave Sanger, who chairs Peninsula’s fire board. The problem isn’t outfitting the township’s two basic life support ambulances; instead, it’s having a trained paramedic available to staff ambulances 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

”It would provide us quite a resource being able to utilize their certified advance life support medics,” Sanger said. “We have two firefighters in class right now to get certified, but they won’t finish until next year ... and that’s still not enough.”

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